I'm always up for messing about in the kitchen, I don't think it's a secret that my wife is not the world's most confident cook, so faced with the bulk of the food prep in the house I tend to gravitate to things that I enjoy: a lot of the time that's red meat. Perhaps surprisingly then, lamb is not something that we often eat at home. I'll often have it at an Indian or Thai restaurant but I didn't eat much lamb growing up and Blondie was pretty convinced that she didn't like it at all. So when Scotch Lamb asked if I'd like to do something for them I was pretty keen to try something I don't normally do, as well as convince her that we should eat it more often!
I think the obvious thing to do with lamb would be some kind of stew or hotpot, so in an attempt to do something a bit different I made one dish which I cooked outside on the barbecue and one "inside" dish. Possibly my favourite thing about the challenge was that, as well as having two very good meals, I discovered an amazing butcher. I picked up the meat from S. Collins and Son in Muirhead, it's a fairly short drive from the city centre (just past the Crowwood Hotel) and I can't adequately describe how amazing it is. I've already been back inside a week and I'll be a regular visitor from now on!
For my outside recipe I made:
Minted Lamb Koftas
1kg lamb mince
3 large cloves garlic
2 slices stale bread
1 tbsp cumin
1 small green chilli
15g fresh mint leaves
Zest of one lemon
Yoghurt Sauce (recipe below)
1) Season the mince and knead
2) Pulse the bread, cumin, mint, lemon zest, garlic and chilli in a food processor until a fine crumb and season season with salt and pepper.
3) Mix with mince and knead until evenly mixed.
4) Form into sausage shapes and skewer. If you have flat metal skewers so much the better. I didn't and the round wood ones just tend to spin in the meat, unless you do what I did and use two per kebab. This means you can turn the meat much more easily and it breaks up less on the barbecue. I made 8 large kebabs from the 1kg but they could be sized however you like.
5) Preheat barbecue to a medium-high heat, we want the outside to be crispy and a little charred.
6) Once the outside looks crispy all the way round (2 mins each side-ish) then turn the heat down to medium and cook for a further 8 minutes, turning halfway through. If you make them smaller, obviously they'll cook quicker.
7) Check that the koftas are cooked through and serve with salad and yoghurt sauce. I make the meat a little spicy with the green chilli, so I like a cool sauce with them but it could just as easily be some kind of chilli sauce. I made them as the main part of a meal but at a large barbecue I would make smaller ones and serve them as finger food.
The meat mixture could make a really nice burger if formed differently. I think next time I might try using the same spicing and making burgers, maybe topped with halloumi and the same yoghurt sauce.
Inside the house I made:
Spiced Lamb Pittas
Half leg of lamb
2 tblsp curry powder
2 tblsp smoked paprika
2 tblsp dry coriander
2 tblsp cumin
1 tblsp chilli powder
1 tblsp garam masala
1 lamb stock cube
2 green chillies
4 pitta breads
Yoghurt sauce (recipe below)
Here is my delicious half leg of lamb. I think most often people would roast it whole, so what I'm about to do to it may seem like sacrilege...
1) Cut off the external fat, debone and dice it (leaving the internal fat on). Yes, it's a pretty expensive cut to dice and the recipe would probably work just as well with shoulder but using leg make it so damn good. The meat will be stay in cubes, not flake and it will be melt in the mouth tender at the end. It's definitely worth it. Your butcher would probably dice it for you but I wanted to do it myself.
2) Mix the dry spices and dredge the meat until covered.
3) Add a little oil to a saucepan and heat to a medium-low heat. Add the chopped chillies, meat and crumble the stock cube over the top.
4) Cook at a low heat for 1-1 1/2 hours. The lamb will release quite a lot of liquid and in an ideal world that will be all the moisture we need. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world so I checked every 15 minutes and topped up with 1/4- 1/2 a cup of water at a time so there was just enough so that it didn't dry out.
5) About an hour in we should have something like this. The lamb should still be solid pieces but it should pull apart pretty easily.6) Add tomato puree until you have the consitency of a curry sauce. Add chopped peppers and onions and cook for another 10 mins, I prefer veggies to still have a little bite so stop before they go soft.
7) We should then have something like this. Toast the pittas in anticipation of the upcoming feast.
8)Fill the pittas and serve with salad and the yoghurt sauce. (same one, recipe below)
The lamb is spicy but not too spicy and hopefully by using the leg it will be so soft and tender as you won't believe. Having said that by substituting shoulder for leg the cost would reduce substantially and it would be quite a decent option for a cheap midweek meal.
Both meals were a pretty big hit in our house. Like I said lamb hasn't been an integral part of the meal rotation in our house for a while but now that I've shown what I can do with it I'm expecting it to be featuring much more in future.
I use this with everything from Greek and Mediterranean spiced food to Indian, including my infamous Greek Nachos (which would also be delicious with lamb, that's now my next project!) It's piss easy to make but tastes amazing.
200g Greek yoghurt
15g fresh mint
1) Zest and juice the lemon. Chop the mint and mix it together.
2) Add in the yoghurt and mix until combined. Finely chop the cucumber and mix in.